As I mentioned yesterday, I used to be a weekly pop culture columnist for the website. The Collective Publishing. It was a great gig as I had almost complete creative freedom over what I could write about and I was paid a decent rate. But unfortunately, the site never was able to land the sponsors or make a profit, so it was shutdown in November of 2014. Then a few years after, the domain expired and all my articles for the site disappeared into the abyss.
I have started using my desktop again, and that is where most of my Collective Publishing piece were initially written and saved on (back then, the cloud wasn't as a common way to save work). I thought it might be fun to repost some of these and for them to have an online home again. I probably won't do them all, because Fall Network TV Series Premiere Previews in 2012 doesn't have a lot of relevance when we don't even know if their will be a premiere season in 2020.
Since these were pieces from several years ago and I know that I've changed a lot since then, it might be fun to offer up a few new thoughts through out the original pieces. I'll put my new comments with a CS and in bold so you can differentiate from what was written way back in 2012.
This original piece was looking at the controversy surrounding a new show at the time called GCB based off a novel called Good Christian Bitches (but for TV was changed to Good Christian Belles. I barely even remember this show existing and I definitely never saw it. A little bit of Google research shows that it only lasted one season and was done by May of 2012.
I honestly have no idea what inspired me to make this my debut pop culture column for the site, since I didn't have any attachment to the series or the cast. My guess is that the conservative right's protests must have been all over social media and it was a big deal at the time, even if I don't remember it now. My reasoning was likely to try to kick-off my new column with a little controversy in hopes that it would garner page views. If I remember correctly, my column at the start was by far the most popular thing on the site, so it succeeded, I guess.
Here is my debut pop culture column for Collective Publishing all the way back on March 14, 2012.
Every television season, there seems to be at least one show that riles up the anger of far-right religious groups and politicians (CS: To be fair, the left can get pretty hot and bothered about shows too) This year it is actually the Disney owned ABC network feeling the wrath with their news show GCB. GCB is based off the Kim Gatlin’s novel titled Good Christian Bitches but for network purposes, it now stands for Good Christian Belles. Based off the original title, I am sure you can figure out why this show is being targeted. The groups seem to have been mildly successful in their protest, since they got Philadelphia Cream Cheese to back out as sponsors (though, they claim it has nothing to do with the protests). I have to admit that I haven’t watched the show. (CS: Ugh. Now, I'd never write an article on a show or movie to this extent that I haven't seen. I think people having ferocious opinions sight unseen has become so common that it just seems like poor form for a pop culture writer and critic to follow that route) There is a good chance I won’t ever see it. (CS: Then how can you know if anything you're saying has merit!?!) This doesn’t have anything to do with the content or title, but it is a health precaution. My wife has a strict “no soap operas in my presence or I will snap” policy, (CS: Yet, after this, she started watching The Bachelorette for a few seasons, which is about as soap opera as you can get) and I’m already just squeaking by with my regular viewing of Revenge (a sometimes mean-spirited but always wonderfully campy show).(CS: I stopped watching that right around the time BuddyTV stopped paying me to review it, though) From what I’ve read, it appears like this is yet another case of unfounded and unfair uproar. Even though I haven’t seen this show, I’ve got a pretty strong feeling that neither have the protesters (especially since the uproar began before the show even premiered on March 4th).(CS: I'm so glad people on the internet never get furious over things they haven't even seen yet anymore)
The show’s premise is about a woman who was a bully back in high school. After she recently lost her husband, she returns back to her hometown and she tries to restart her life. Despite the fact that she has changed, the ladies from her old high school remember how she tormented them, and so now they do whatever they can to get payback for all those years of harassment. As the title would lead you to believe, they are all church going woman but they’re living very unChristian-like lives. The protest groups’ reason for trying to get the show knocked off the air is based off a belief that the show is attacking Christianity. This is an argument that I’ve seen thrown out towards several shows and movies in the past. For the most part, I’ve found it to be an annoying case of hypersensitivity. These religious right protest groups like to claim there is this ferocious attack on Christianity, despite it still being the most prominently held belief on this continent. I’m not saying media have never perpetuated blasphemy or attacked Christianity, but it seems for the most part it is a small group trying to turn the majority religion into the victimized minority. (CS: To be fair, I feel like most major religions can be hypersensitive and they don't feel like they should be subject to scrutiny or parody. I disagree with this)
I remember, a few years back there was a group complaining that there was a character in the movie The Mist that made Christians look like bad people. The film was about a bunch of people trapped in a grocery store after a mysterious mist unleashed a horde of evil monsters. There is this one crazy lady inside the store that starts harping on how this is a sign of the end times and everyone is now going to pay if they don’t repent. She ends up attracting a large group of people and forms this crazy cult. I remember thinking, “Do people really want to call this lady Christian?” Sure, she quoted Bible verses and talked about a god, but it was pretty clear to me that she was some nutjob with her own insane religion. The lady was a crazy cult leader, and many cult leaders have used elements of religion and Christianity to lure in followers, but that doesn’t actually make any of them a Christian. After all, Hitler spoke of Jesus with great frequency, but I’ve never seen anyone try to claim the man was Christian. (CS: He also tried to claim Jesus was not Jewish)
I don’t think the film was trying to make an evil Christian character, but rather show how religion can be distorted into something harmful. The people in the store weren’t willing to stand up to her or question what she was doing, and that is always very dangerous. I don’t think GCB is an attack on Christianity either. I think it is an attack on hypocrisy. (CS: Probably would have helped if you bothered to see one episode, though). There are “Sunday Christians” who are the kind of people who claim to be holy, but then act in ways totally opposed to the teachings of Christ. I’ve seen churches where the congregation is more worried about their appearance or reputations rather than showing unconditional love. This doesn’t make Christianity or the teachings of Jesus bad, but rather it shows these kinds of people need to do a better job following it. I think the majority of viewers are smart enough and know enough about Christianity to realize these characters aren’t following the religion properly.(CS: My Facebook feed disputes this) This isn’t a religion that most people haven’t heard about, but rather the one that has been a crucial part of our culture for as long as anyone here has been alive.
Once again, I have to confess that I’ve only seen commercials for this show, and so I am mostly assuming that I am correct that the programming is not an attack (but again, I also know the protests were coming from people who didn’t watch the show either) (CS: Still man, you got to watch what you're writing about). Actress Kristin Chenoweth is one of the stars in this show, and she professes to also be a devout Christian (I also need to admit I don’t know much about her personal life either because we don’t hang out that often). She has gone on record to say she would never attack her own faith, but instead, this is a comedy about people rather than religion. It just happens to be a comedy set in a Dallas Baptist church rather than a New York apartment or a busy pub.
The reality is that the show won’t be very successful if it is all just hypocrites anyway. (CS: Well, it wasn't very successful) In order for people to relate and get connected to show, there has to be someone who is likable. Based off the setting of this show, I’m going to assume the main character is a church goer and probably someone who does a better job of following real Christian values. These protest groups will never find out if this is true, because then they would need to get a hobby other than attacking shows that offend then. (CS: Again, to be fair, nowadays most of the internet seems obsessed with that hobby) It is unfortunate that some groups feel the need to wage war before even giving a show a chance. I hope that if this show does end up getting cancelled that it will be due to being boring or stupid rather than one small group just kept complaining loud enough. (CS: It lasted from March to May, so my guess is that it failed on its own merit).